Prevalence of Substance Abuse Among Trauma Patients in Rural West Virginia


Substance abuse poses considerable clinical, economic, and social challenges. West Virginia is hailed as the epicenter of the substance abuse in the United States, the prevalence and pattern of different trauma mechanisms in a rural context or in patients with different forms of substance abuse remain unclear.


We performed the following analysis to understand the prevalence of substance abuse in patients with different trauma mechanisms in the rural setting with high substance abuse in the West Virginia.


We performed a cross-sectional retrospective analysis of adult trauma patients (motor vehicle, fall, assault, firearm suicide, brawl/rape and machinery) hospitalized in two tertiary care hospitals in West Virginia between 2006 and 2016. We identified all patients who had a urine drug screen (UDS) test and extracted the data related to the substance and trauma.


Among 8734 patients screened using UDS, 5940 (68.1%) patients were tested positive for the substance. Opiates, alcohol, benzodiazepines, and cannabis were the four most common substances identified in trauma victims. In all instances, the prescribed drug was less than 20%. Fatal outcome was observed in 366 patients in the sample, with 44% (n=162) testing positive for UDS, 12% (n=45) testing positive for only alcohol, and 15% (n=56) testing positive for both alcohol and UDS. Regarding the trauma mechanism, the motor vehicle accident (MVA) was the most prominent with a clear association of substance abuse with fatal outcome.


The most prevalent trauma mechanism was a MVA, with a strong link between drug usage and mortality. Due to the high incidence of positive substance abuse screens, UDS tests may need to be more widely implemented in trauma in the West Virginia region. The findings of this study might help in establishing regional or national policies to reduce acute substance abuse.


drugs; opioid pandemic; substance abuse; trauma; west virginia.

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